Colorado Avalanche: A look at the many roads available to the Colorado Avalanche in the draft

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: A detailed view of the Top 31 draft picks on the video board after the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: A detailed view of the Top 31 draft picks on the video board after the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Avs have several options presented to them in the draft. All of them are good.

The Colorado Avalanche find themselves in a situation they have not been familiar with in quite some time. This year the Avs find themselves picking late in the first round for the first time since 2014 when they selected Conner Bleackley with the 23rd pick. The Avalanche find themselves picking one spot higher than that selection in the 2020 draft and with the 24th pick Colorado has a handful of options at their disposal. So let us take a dive into what those options are, and rest assured whatever the Avs decide they will continue to be in a position to push for the ultimate prize in a Stanley Cup starting next season.

When a team is picking high in the draft they are looking to improve as quickly as possible. They are looking for that transcendent player that they can throw out on the ice, have some growing pains in the process and learn on the job. Over the past several seasons the Colorado Avalanche have been that team building through the draft. Those picks now make up much of the core of the team we see today. Guys like Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar have become household names in Avalanche circles and likely will be for years to come.

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Due to the solid drafting like the aforementioned players coupled with free agency and trade moves, the Avs have put themselves in a position where they can do a number of things in this year’s draft. They can swing for the fences with a prospect labeled ‘underachiever’ and hope their system can mold him into a player other teams wish they didn’t pass on, they can simply pluck the best player available or they can use the phrase all fans loathe on draft day but can pay dividends in the long run… the pick.

The bottom line here is that if the Avs do keep the pick and select a player in the first round, nothing will be expected of said player in the immediate future. They can head to college if that was their plan or play in a developmental league, or if they are AHL ready head to the Colorado Eagles to get a jump start on their career.

Enough with the options the Avalanche are looking at. You came here for info on possible players the Avalanche could add to their system and that is exactly what we are going to do. We will break this down into three sections. The first being the realistic options that should be around when the Avs pick at #24. Draft day is a crap shoot so it’s possible a team selecting much lower falls in love with any of these guys and reaches to select them earlier than expected. Chances are most will be available for the Avs.

Players Most Likely Available When the Avalanche Select at #24

John-Jason Peterka – LW, 5’11’ / 192 lbs. Shoots: Left

There is a reason I’m talking about John-Jason Peterka (aka JJ Peterka) before anyone else is because if the Avs do keep their 24th pick this is the guy I’m hoping they go with. Peterka doesn’t know the meaning of ‘relax’. The kid has a motor that just does not quit and who doesn’t want that type of effort on their team. Some will say he will go easy when the play is happening away from him, but I don’t see it that way. He’s always scheming to line up his next attack and is always looking at where the play might go if he isn’t involved.

But it goes beyond just effort. Peterka played with and on the same line as Tim Stützle (projected top three pick) in the U20 WHC and led the line with six points. This is the typical player ranked right in line with where the Avalanche select but a team above them might fall in love with and grab. If he’s there I would love to see the Avalanche take him. You can never have enough offensive firepower and his motor will prove infectious.

If you want a guy that will give you everything he’s got game in and game out you pick JJ Peterka.

Jacob Perreault – C, 5’11” 198 lbs. Shoots: Right

The thing that is most impressive with Jacob Perrault is not that he knows how to score, he does. It’s that he found ways to score on an average team. Wondering how he did that? He’s got one of the best shots in the draft, and he has an arsenal of shots at his disposal. He has a nasty wrist show, a powerful slap shot but most of all he does not shy away from mastering the lost art of the backhand shot.

Perreault always seems to be everywhere the puck is or at least close by. He can score from any angle and is one of those ‘Johnny on the spot’ type of players who is not afraid to mix it up in the net front to grab a rebound and muscle home a goal. His size allows him this.

Just like Peterka, selecting Perreault will only give the Avs more options on the offensive side of the ice. He could step in now and hold his own, but as stated earlier would not be expected to do so. He could be a dangerous player if given a couple years to mature.

Kaiden Guhle – D, 6’3’ 191 lbs. Shoots: Left

Are the Avalanche in need of more defensemen? No. They have gone from a team that was highly suspect on the defensive end to a pretty dominant one thanks to drafting the likes of Cale Makar, Connor Timmins and Bowen Byram, roster mainstays like Erik Johnson and Ian Cole and making impressive trades for guys like Sam Girard and Ryan Graves.

But as the saying goes, defense wins championships. So if a guy like Kaiden Guhle is still around at the 24th pick the Avs hand might be forced here in taking yet another young, talented blue liner.

If the last name sounds a little familiar that’s because his older brother is currently a defender for the Anaheim Ducks so hockey runs in the genes. His make-up is almost identical to his brother but Kaiden stands an inch taller and a pound heavier. That tall frame will get him many looks in the middle of the first round. Based on rankings, Guhle is right around where the Avs select, but due to this draft being loaded with offensive talent yet on the low end with defensive talent, a guy like Ghule very well could get snatched up by a defensive struggling team prior to the Avalanche selection. If he is there it will make Joe Sakic’s job much more difficult.

Players Who Most Likely Won’t be Available but it Would Sure be Nice if They Were

Connor Zary – C, 6’0” 181 lbs. Shoots: Left

This draft is loaded with players depending on which ranking site you’re looking at can go anywhere outside of the top 12. One mock draft will have a player going 15th while another has that same player going 26th. Connor Zary is one of those guys who some rank in the late first round, but mock drafts almost always have him going in the mid teens. Why? He has all the tools you want in a prospect that, I believe, won’t take too much time to fine tune and have him NHL ready fairly quickly.

Zary is a gifted offensive player as evidenced by his 38 G, 48 A stat line in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers. He takes the Gretzky quote of missing 100% of the shots you don’t take literally as he is a shoot first type of player. This can hinder him and his passing, which needs work and along with his skating style are easily the low points of his game.

If Zary’s passing needs to work, collecting passes doesn’t. He seems like he’s a magnet for the puck and will corral just about any puck sent his way no matter where the puck is when it’s around him.

Zary has the height and the size to add a lot to whichever team lands him. If he falls to where he is ranked more than he is projected the Avalanche would run to the podium to select him.

Jack Quinn – RW, 5’11” 178 lbs. Shoots: Right

You want immediate offensive production? Jack Quinn is your guy. 52 G, 37 A for a total of 89 points will get you a lot of looks. Some will credit Quinn with simply being a gifted offensive player while others will say he benefited from being on the New York Yankees of the OHL with the Ottawa 67s.

While Quinn put up some gaudy numbers he’s not the guy who is getting all the accolades from his season. Those are going to top 5 pick Marco Rossi (no we won’t be discussing him since I have a better chance of playing for the Avalanche than Rossi does). But you can’t deny those numbers aren’t indicative of what Quinn can achieve. Also, the argument can be made that the majority of those numbers are legit since the only time Quinn played on the same line as Rossi was during the power play.

Watch the tape on him and his offensive skill quickly stands out. He has a knack for the puck and what to do with it. He has some of the best hockey smarts in the draft and the team that selected Quinn will have a player who knows the game and his role in it.

Quinn lacks the speed that some teams covet, like the Avalanche. He won’t outskate you like Nathan MacKinnon can, but then again who does? He makes up for this with his smarts and knowing right where to be at the right time. When he does pick his spot to shoot, that is a weapon any team wants in their arsenal.

Will Quinn be there at #24? Likely not since we are talking about him in this segment. It would be a match made in hockey heaven if he falls though.

Rodion Amirov – LW, 6’0” 168 lbs. Shoots: Left

If you glossed over Amirov’s size above, take a second to review it. Get this man a burger! He has the size, but he needs to put on some pounds if he wants to survive in the world of the NHL.

This is another player who out performed a player expected to go in the top 10 of this year’s draft. Amirov put up more points in last year’s U18 WHC than Lucas Raymond, and that’s saying something.

Amirov’s size scares me away from him, but like I stated earlier the Avalanche don’t need to select someone with the expectations he will contribute right away. Rodion Amirov would be the perfect guy to pick, let him bulk up and fine tune his game and when he is NHL ready could be incredibly productive for many years. He has all the tools to be that guy. He’s smart, fast, has a good shot and exceptional puck handling skills.

The Avs have proven they are patient with their prospects. If Rodion Amirov falls to them and they feel obligated to select him, expect the Martin Kaut treatment here, maybe longer.

Players Expect to Go Later but Who the Avs Could Reach For

We’ve established the Avalanche can do a multitude of things with their 24th pick. They are now reaping the benefits of them being the ones with multiple picks in prior drafts and now sit in a position where they can go a number of routes. However, the one thing the Avalanche don’t have in this year’s draft is a second round pick. They traded that away to the Washington Capitals when they traded for Andre Burakovsky.

Due to not having a second round pick might we see the Avs select someone that is tagged with the ‘first round potential, second round selection’ label? This would fall in line with what was mentioned before in letting a guy mature. So if the Avs do go down that road, who are the options available?

Ozzy Wiesblatt – RW, 5’10” 183 lbs. Shoots: Right

Weisblatt is brimming with potential and at times has flashed the ‘wow’ factor, while other times seemingly taking plays off, especially in the D zone. All the issues I’ve seen and read about Weisblatt are correctable. If a guy is given the opportunity to play in the NHL, you would think they would be willing to learn and correct those mistakes knowing they are easily replaceable. I feel like Ozzy Weisblatt falls into that realm. Given the chance, he won’t squander it.

Weisblatt loves to play with the puck on his stick and isn’t afraid to set his offense up for a rush. All reports focus on his transitional play which they say is where he shines. He will weave his way through a defense faster than Forrest Gump through a Vietnam jungle, but like Forrest once he’s out he’s all alone, which is a bad thing.

In 64 games played Weisblatt netted 25 goals while dishing out 45 assists for 70 points. Very good offensive production from a guy getting second line minutes.

He’s got a great motor and has a very good shot. You have the baseline for a player who you can mold into something wonderful here and if the Avs did reach and select him in the first round even though he is projected second round, I wouldn’t be disappointed with that.

Jan Mysak – LW, 6’0” 181 lbs. Shoots : Left

Talk about a guy who I have absolutely no idea where he will land in this draft. Experts are expecting him to go early in the 2nd round but some mock drafts have him going late teen early 20s. I’ve even seen comments stating he doesn’t deserve to be picked until the 3rd round! Why the wide range? I wish I could answer that question. He has great hockey attributes. Has a great shot, great skating ability and very good puck handling skills.

I think the only reason he is all over the map is due to the sheer amount of talent available and experts don’t know where to slot him. It’s a good problem to have for a team like the Avalanche picking 24th. Nobody would bat an eye if they selected him at that position in the draft as opposed to someone like Montreal at #16. Mysak does a lot of things very well and by all accounts is a very well rounded player and person.

The term ‘the sky’s the limit’ applies to Mysak. I really like his style of play and think it fits well with the Avalanche. He should be available when they pick but the question will be who else is available. He is not the guy who is on your list that will make you run to the podium like Zary is. If the Avs draft board is not going according to plan and they want to take a guy they can leet mature, Mysak is it.

Ty Smilanic – F, 6;1” 170 lbs. Shoots: Left

Let’s make some waves here. Odds are that Weisbaltt and Mysak will be available for the Avalanche taking with their first round pick. Ty Smilanic will absolutely be available and due to the lack of a second round pick is the type of guy Colorado could make a play for because of it.

Look at Smilanic’s ranking and you might think there is no way the Avs reach for a mid-late second round pick late in the first round. But look deeper at Smilanic and it’s conceivable the Avalanche are being forward thinking and taking this ‘continue building for the future’ idea further.

Much was expected from Smilanic heading into his last year and then a broken finger came into play. Did Smilanic get sidelined because of it? Briefly. He was back out on the ice weeks later. So don’t call into question his toughness. Yet we can’t dive too much into what could have been for Smilanic had the injury not occured.

What we do know is he has the one attribute the Avalanche love; speed. Smilanic is quick and that is the emphasis of his game. He was so much faster than his teammates it often got him into offensive zone trouble leaving him out in no mans land waiting for his teammates to catch up. A problem at the lower level, not so much in the NHL.

Another reason the Avs might be looking in Smilanic’s direction is that he initially had committed to the University of Denver but changed his mind and headed to Quinnipiac.

If the Avs had a second round pick I would say hold tight on Smilanic until then, but since they don’t it’s possible the Avs reach here.


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The only time the fan base is ok with a trade on draft day is when that team trades up. Trading down is such a punch in the gut. You’ve waited so long for your team to select the next member of your franchise and now you’re telling me I need to wait longer?? However, trading down in the first round is not out of the question when it comes to the Avs. You would like to see them trade down in the first so they still obtain a first round talent while maybe adding a second rounder since they don’t have one this year. All you need is one team in love with a guy still on the board to jump back into the first round and over trade what they give, which could be a second rounder.

Ottawa could be just the team. With three first round and four second round picks, Ottawa can trade up and down the draft board if they so choose. The Sens have the Islanders 28th pick in the first round and that is ripe for a team wanting to move up a few spots to leap from some teams waiting for a specific player to fall to them. Ottawa would be in a position to swap first round picks with Colorado while also giving them one of their four second round picks which puts Colorado right back into the mix for a number of players they can add to the arsenal.

Prepare yourself because this could be a likely scenario.

So this is where we are with the Colorado Avalanche. A number of options, all of them good. There is no question there will be talent available to them when they pick. Yet, they are also in a position to move back in the draft so they can obtain even more assets to a team that already has an abundance of them. We have said it many times in the past and the phrase continues as we enter the draft.

It’s a great time to be an Avs fan.